Angelo Vasta is an Italian-born, Brooklyn-based videographer who works primarily with the dance community. He came to the US to study filmmaking at The New School in New York, and quickly fell into documenting dancers as a means of reconnecting with his earlier unfulfilled ambitions to pursue  dance himself, that were dashed as a result of his late launch (“I was never good enough to become professional!”) However he parlayed his passion for the medium into an alternate career trajectory, focusing on vidoegraphy instead, to capture the essence of movement as a form of expression. “Film and dance are both motion-based art forms, so for me there was an organic pairing.”

After migrating to New York and enrolling in his film program, he quickly settled into videography as his preferred medium rather than screenwriting or directing. “I’ve always wanted to be a professional dancer; this is why I’m doing dance films. The camera gives me an opportunity to explore a world that I connect with and that deeply attracts me. This is very important as I always try to express this tension through my work.” That tension is palpable in the results, as his work delves into the nexus of dance and film, exploring movement through the lens of a camera. He remarks, “as a dance filmmaker sometimes I need to study the choreography myself to better understand how to put it on screen, and with my camera it feels both like being the choreographer and the dancer.”

Of Vasta’s creative process, his methods have evolved over the years as he’s tuned his craftsmanship and aesthetics. Now well into his career, his portfolio has grown into an impressive collection of films that span a wide artistic spectrum, working primarily with dance companies to help capture the ethos of their various culture, choreographic underpinnings as well as hands on with specific dancers. “Each dance company is very different. With some I need to stay out of the dancer’s way. I have to be an invisible presence in the studio, in which case it’s difficult for me to always get the best shots. With others I can ask the choreographer or the dancers to do specific things for the camera, so I actively interact with them and my presence in the studio becomes something that is used to challenge them.”

Ballet Hispanico – LINEA RECTA from Angelo Silvio Vasta on Vimeo.

As far as his works’ musical accompaniments go, his process is simultaneously simple and elegant, seeking songs that fit with his work as a finished project. “It’s actually very easy for me to find music to go with the film, as almost everything I hear just seems to fit with the choreography in somehow. It’s like magic!” He is currently collaborating with Ludovico Schilling for one of his current projects, called “Dance Against Racism” which will be published during the International Week of Discrimination. His other go-to artists include those in Moby’s “Mobygratis” collective, whose music is available free of charge for independent filmmakers. As for what Angelo listens to at home, at varies from nostalgia-inspiring Italian songwriters to modern-day pop divas. “I always love to listen to some Italian songwriters like Francesco De Gregori, Franco Battiato, Lucio Battisti, Fabrizio De Andrè…Once in a while I need to listen to them. Their melodies and lyrics are home and remind me so much of my childhood and my country, especially now that I live in the US, so I really need to listen to them especially when I’m home sick…plus their music is just so good. On the US side, I’m in a Stevie Nicks/ Fleetwood Mac period (and also The Police, old fashion Madonna, The Cure, Eagles, Talking Heads). And of course Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce are always perfect for when I need to recharge the batteries or crazy dance.”

Sanctuary from Angelo Silvio Vasta on Vimeo.

 Look out for forthcoming work of Vasta’s out this summer. In the meantime catch one of his recommended picks for dance in NYC below!
-“For those ones who missed Batsheva Dance Company at Bam few weeks ago I suggest to go see the film Mr.Gaga showing now at Lincoln Center. Documentary about the artistic director of the company.”
– “Mark Morris is presenting two operas at Bam at the end of June.”
– “Ballet Hispanico will perform in April at the Joyce Theater bringing three different pieces. One of them is Linea Recta, a piece choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa that I had the privilege to capture during its genesis/creation as I did the work-in-progress video for it!”
– “Other companies that are performing at the Joyce this spring that I would recommend are Stephen Petronio and Limon Dance Company.”
 – “The New York City Ballet is showing all Balanchine in April 2016.”


PLAYING DETROIT: Humons “Try it for Me”

playing detroit

Sonically celestial crusader Humons dropped his debut EP Spectra earlier this month; a whirling, spacious collision of emotional decluttering and the rhythmic freedom of danceable electronica. Humons paired up with director Shane Ford of The Work to produce the video for “Try it for Me,” a stunning visual marriage of organic and digital landscapes, both of which reflect the sincere duality of Spectra as a whole bringing Humons’ vision full circle.

The video follows our unassuming, wanderlust-ing heroine, dressed notably in white for the entire ride. We are introduced to her apartment, then the beach where she seems entranced by having her hands in the sand like some goddess of the elements. Some of the most beautiful frames are set in a lush forest where our blonde, angelic maven of mysticism crosses path with a woman who inhabited the forest before she came along. Their eyes beg with curiosity and when they touch, though innocently, we are reminded of our own guides, pathways, and our personal sensuality. Where the video challenges reality is in the toggling between what seems like three different realms; waking life, dream life and the world trapped in between. The pulsing camera work in conjunction with the throbbing synth beats breaks the walls between viewer, voyeur, and participant. This ever changing dial of realities is illustrated by a digital distortion that feels more vortex inhalation than noise. From echoing images that vibrate to hazy, pinhole visions the deja vu sensation is calmed when we are finally led to the water’s edge with our two spiritual pilots. What the video champions is the encouragement to search one’s self and ones environment; a rite of passage you can dance to.

Ride the waves of Humons latest vision quest with the video for “Try it for Me” below:

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TRACK PREMIERE: Yaysh “Wild One” (Madame Gandhi Percussion Edit)


L.A. based pop paragon Yaysh made a lasting impression when she recently dropped the R8DIO-produced “Wild One” via Young Hollywood. The initial single off of her upcoming record, it is a sweetly melodic track with glittering chart potential. The vulnerable pop song takes a dirty turn as Yaysh raps through the bridge. “Wild One” inspires listeners to dance, as the Shangri-Las would say, “close, very, very close.”

If the original cut is perfect for languidly swaying with a date, then Madame Gandhi’s percussion edit might make you break out in “Pon De Floor”-style daggering. Filled-out with dancehall inspired beats, Gandhi used a Caribbean soca beat as her foundation, making a feast of rhythm with staccato bongos and everyone’s favorite percussion instrument: the cowbell.

The percussion edit texturizes the track to the point that movement becomes involuntary while listening to it, hitting a node so primal within, that it’s no wonder the drum is the oldest instrument in human history. Yaysh commented in a press release: “‘Wild One’ is about passion, justice and just straight-up courage-” a fact that becomes all the more evident with the spicy new drum track supplied by Gandhi, whose approach to music is always unconventional.

Check out the Madame Gandhi Percussion Edit of “Wild One” below. I dare you to sit still.


PLAYING DETROIT: Valley Hush “Iced Cream”

Hush Vallry


Valley Hush

Leave it to my favorite electro-pop duo to release a dance track contemplating the turmoil of running the rat race that challenges the suffocation of creative freedom by means of societal survival. Valley Hush debuted “Iced Cream” earlier this week, a mesmeric track that encapsulates Alex Kaye and Lianna Vanicelli’s fluid aesthetic of dancing the line between struggle and release with an undeniable melancholic pop magnetism. Although there is no mention of the beloved confectionery treat, the songs message is the equivalent to the sticky sweetness of a melted cone between your fingers; a life that is satisfying but not without the perpetual stickiness to make you wish you had a napkin, or rather, make you wish you didn’t care about the mess. Following the same sensational trajectory of their last single “Iris”, “Iced Cream” picks up with the similar jutting, well-traveled mash-up of worldly tones and beats but this time delves deeper into self-induced sadness.

The most marveling element of “Iced Cream” is the marriage between lyrics and Vanicelli’s vocals. Opening with the line “I’m a human being/not a machine/I will eventually tire/of this silly maze” we are lead through a poetic display of personal disappointments and misappropriated life goals: how it feels vs. how it should feel. Vanicelli insinuates traditional accomplishments (“a college degree/a job with a salary”) act as life altering barriers between exploring the truer parts of self and feeling successful; an internal melting and re-freezing, only to melt again. These vulnerable truths through airy and choppy vocals feel like a privately shared secret discovery, though not confessional or dangerous. Valley Hush invites us to share a spoon and indulge in their existential crisis sundae that wakes our inner demons with a sensual tenderness that is usually reserved for licking our fingers clean, as not to leave a trail of sweet cream behind.

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ARTIST INTERVIEW + VIDEO REVIEW: Cocovan “Chic (Someone To Love)”

cocovan 3

Part French, part Iranian Cocovan disappeared for about a year—leaving her fans in the art and music world wandering through empty social media sites. Then, like the reincarnations of Madonna’s various styles, Cocovan reemerged as the glam-pop empress that she is now. She then released “Mirage Of Us” to rave responses. Yesterday, she put out the video for her brand new single “Chic (Someone To Love.”) And, yes—it’s just as electric. Cocovan is the creative drive behind the new material, directing the one-shot-behind-the-scenes video. Besides a few seconds of her holding a white hula-hoop and taking off her glam-ed-up leather jacket, it’s all her—dancing so gracefully, swishing her perfect short black hair, and posing like a goddess. This song puts me in the highest spirits, while making me feel like I could’ve been the coolest chick in the 80s. Check out her BRAND NEW video and lovely interview with Audiofemme below. You can also listen to her track here. Did I mention that she is also the biggest sweetheart? We LOVE her!

Greetings, love! The femmes are super excited to have you featured on our page! 

It’s great to meet you too! And I am equally excited to be featured on Audiofemme, thank you so much for your support!

Q: First off, “Chic” is rotating nonstop, I love it. I’ve been blasting it in my car. I feel like I’m in the movie Drive, and I’m living in an 80s-esque film. If you haven’t seen the movie, I feel like you would totally enjoy it. 

Oh thank you! I’m glad to hear that – It makes me happy to think “Chic” is playing somewhere in Brooklyn right now! I love the movie Drive. It’s funny you reference it, because even though I can’t actually drive (I know…), the imagery of driving is somehow a big inspiration to me. While I was writing my EP, I had videos like this one– playing on loop in the studio on a TV while I was writing, as a visual inspiration.

Q: I read that you are influenced by Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Prince. How has it affected your own unique style? (Or any other influences)? 

I think it affected me in the way that it liberated me. I can’t find a way to say it without sounding cheesy- but basically to embrace my quirkiness. Beyond the fact that their music and style have inspired me to create my own, all these artists are muses to me- they guide me. My muses motivate me to push myself everyday, to push myself to always try and create better art.

Q. Your recent project was you directing the video for “Chic.” I can’t wait to see it. Can we expect your creative drive in more videos, etc.?

Hehe! The video is out now! I hope you will enjoy it!

I’ve always been very involved in the visual side of my project. From logos, to artworks, to videos… To me, “Cocovan” is both a visual and musical project. In more recent news, I just shot two new music videos for the next singles! I love making videos, eventually I’d love to direct videos for other artists too.

Q. And in your new song, it gives a very confident look into the future of crushed hearts. Does this come from personal experience?

Well, I guess I’m still on the “crushed heart” side for now, I haven’t found “the one” yet. But yes, it absolutely comes from personal experience. I think it’s even harder to find love in the modern dating world. People treat each other like we’re disposable. It’s difficult to find depth. Or maybe it’s just that I’m entering the Sex And The City age! Anyways, I’m convinced there’s a perfect match on this planet for each one of us. So it’s just a matter of time now!

Q. When can we expect “The Club” to be released? And why have you said this EP is your most important yet?

The Club will come out in the fall. This EP is my most important yet because it is my artistic “rebirth”. Indeed I released a first EP in 2012 that I have since taken down from the internet. At the time, I needed to take time to sit at the studio and allow to evolve sonically. So The Club will be the first EP to be released since that break.

Q. Are you coming to the US (mainly NYC) anytime soon? We would love to have a dance party!

I’ll probably be back soon as I always have NYC withdrawals. I miss the 99c pizzas and the JMZ train. You know I have lived in NYC actually? Here’s a list of all the neighborhoods I have lived in in NYC: Lower East Side, East Village, South Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene (thank you Craigslist). Anyways, I’d love to have a dance party too!

Q. Looks like you love Snapchat. Any favorite filters? And thank you for taking the time out to show us a little bit about you <3

I really love Snapchat, it’s my favorite social media. My snapchat is iamcocovan by the way! Fave filter is the purplish one. I don’t know how to describe this filter, so I figured I’d make a very special exclusive Cocovan x Audiofemme snap just for you guys! See you soon in NYC!

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Few bands can claim that they’re race-car driver approved; Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr was one of them. They got Dale Earnhardt Jr’s attention because, obviously, they used his name. He wrote to Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein in 2011, promising no legal action against the duo and describing himself as a fan. But now, they’ve moved on, and rebranded themselves as JR JR.

Which brings us to their first release under the new name: The self-titled JR JR, a euphoric, smoothly produced pop album. And while my cynical hipster heart hates the idea that anything so anthemic and catchy can be good, it balances its commercial appeal with enough introspective moments that I’m not ashamed it’s been stuck in my head all day.

Take “In The Middle,” for example. It’s an infectious dance track, but with gloomy under tones. “There’s a million ways to die,” they proclaim early in the song. Instead of singing about burning up the dance floor, they’re “standing in the fire,” their indecision rendering them “stuck to the floor.”  Usually, name-based tracks are sappy love (or breakup) songs, but not JR JR‘s “Caroline,” which takes place in a hospital. And though you can imagine a stadium of fans pumping their fists and singing along to the chorus of “No one’s going to live my life for me” and “I don’t want to be you,” the verses reveal a more complicated situation as they ask, “How can I tell if it’s drugs or my feelings now?” and hint at a drastic change of identity. 

Unfortunately, there’s no word yet from Dale Earnhardt Jr on his opinion of the duo’s new name and album; we probably won’t know until it’s released on September 25 via Warner Bros. Records. In the meantime, check out JR JR’s creepy-cool music video for one of the album’s key tracks, “Gone,” where dancers’ legs detach from their owners and run wild.

FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Elements Music & Art Festival 8/22


This Saturday BangOn!NYC is holding their mysterious music and arts festival Elements. Along an industrial waterfront in Brooklyn, the vibe should be somewhere between Berlin’s Boiler Room and the bug-infested desert of Burning Man. A few subway lines away from wherever you reside, the one-day event promises to be a slice of music and escapism without plagues or planes.

Elements will have four stages- Earth/Wind/Water/Fire, along with large-scale art installations, delicious food trucks, humans, fairies, hopefully giraffes, all sorts of magical creatures spinning around from the sky to add to the intensity of your experience. Dig the full line-up above. Or better yet, don’t even read it, just show up Saturday dressed as whatever your inner child wants and dance like summer never ends.

LIVE REVIEW: The Juan MacLean @ Union Pool


I’ll be honest: when I hear the genres “house,” “techno,” or “dance” being used to describe a band, I picture a couple of dudes posturing behind laptops. But when The Juan MacLean took the stage at Union Pool on Thursday, I knew this show would be different. John MacLean, the core of the project, immediately put to use a theremin attached to his keyboard stand. Nancy Whang, of LCD Soundsystem, gripped the mic and sang brooding vocals, over endless synths and a beat by a drummer, who, though seriously overworked, never seemed to tire.

Apparently, MacLean decided after the first song that we weren’t dancing enough. “It’s very Thursday night in here,” he taunted the crowd, who countered with whistles and shouts. “It’s a very thirsty night in here,” Whang shot back, chugging a water bottle. The group had recently played three nights at the Cameo gallery, and on their first of three shows at Union Pool, they weren’t satisfied with just easing into their set, or letting the audience do so either.

Whang played percussion with a serious, stony look on her face. It never wavered, even when hitting a springy, rattling instrument earned her cheers. “That was a vibraslap,” she deadpanned, to more cheers. When she and Maclean began to trade vocal lines on “One Day,” it felt like at any minute the band was going to break into “Don’t You Want Me Baby”– they had all of the epic synths and a tense, emotional performance that had the whole room dancing as hard as they could, but none of the song’s cheesiness. And, no laptops.

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LIVE REVIEW: Body Language @ Baby’s All Right


Hump day isn’t usually this sexy, but it’s fashion week. I’m not even fully through the door of Baby’s All Right and I’ve already spotted a woman with a balloon animal headband and another in a tomato cape and Zorro hat (no sign of Waldo yet-oh, there he is). And to think I almost didn’t wear these sparkle pants.

All this seems appropriate considering the members of Brooklyn electro-pop outfit Body Language are no strangers to the fashion industry. In 2013 they played a show hosted by makers of brightly colored, suspiciously low-priced socks Joe Fresh. The foursome are themselves a put-together bunch, but in a way that suits their music as opposed to distracting from it. There are so many bands tangled in designer imagery these days, it’s nice to see a group of talented musicians who have their priorities straight.

Before Body Language could get everyone frenzied, we needed to warm up our muscles. Fortunately the night’s opener was Figgy, a.k.a Mike Ferringo, the Massachusetts-born NYC based DJ/producer who’s been making the house rounds lately. Despite the clout, he seemed to be a pretty normal guy who got as much dance out of his set as any good DJ would desire from his audience.

Love or hate the genre, house remixes are still relevant, perhaps more than ever before considering our cultural urge to hunt-hoard-curate, and Ferringo’s background in Jazz is a testament to the rising craft of the remix and the resilient presence of R&B music.

In a recent interview with LA Canvas, he made a simple but pertinent remark when asked to explain R&B’s recent “comeback” and why people love the genre so much:

“The honesty of the vocals, and I don’t necessarily mean lyrics. Soul music will be around forever, it’s not a trend.”

Figgy played for about an hour – or pushed, or programmed for about an hour. I don’t really know the right verb for what DJs do these days, but whatever he did  it was great, and the crowd seemed to agree with a nod of their hips.

I wish I could relay the litany of samples I recognized instantly by ear, but while I enjoyed every moment of his set, I could only pick out “Heart of Glass” and “No Diggity.” The rest was a well-spun web of disco claps and house keys that made it impossible to stand inert. Hats off to you Mr. Figgy.

I was well warmed at this point, but unable to break out of stationary head bobbing. This being the second installment of “going to a show with the cold/flu” I was afraid to dance…could dancing give me pneumonia? Typhus? Scarlett Fever? And then a more jarring question arose: When did I turn into an elder from Footloose?

The great thing about dance music is that you don’t have to think about these things once you hear it. It’s airborne, relentless and contagious…at least it was for the frontal half of the audience. Five minutes into Body Language’s set there was crowd surfing, a shoe to a man’s head, and the all-around pelvic gyrating our grandparent’s feared. Body Language had a few technical errors in the beginning of their set, namely producer/everything-player Grant Wheeler’s Bass acting up, and producer/vocalist/everything-player Matt Young’s levels needing to be more upward pointing.

I don’t mean to get hyperbolic (it just happens) but this is a group of incredibly talented musicians, and that’s not an overstatement. They’ve managed to combine the unpretentious fun of dance music with attentive producing, landing a sound almost as exciting to listen to on headphones as it is to see live. Not a small feat.

Lead vocalist Angelica Bess is in a word: charismatic. She sings with as much ease as she does professionalism. The rest of the band was equally humble, focused and impressively proficient musically. As it turns out, this is no act. After a brief Q+A with the group, AudioFemme discovered that the members of Body Language are not only feel-good beat geniuses-they’re also super nice and down to earth. Kudos times two.



TRACK PREMIERE: Kat Solar “Infinity”


Kat Solar, aka Katrina Connor from Detroit, is a pop artist putting her drama background to work, whether it’s performing cabaret-like routines with a full cast of dancers or shooting ambitiously choreographed music videos. Since her last album Snake Eyes, the performer has been working on a different class of new material, which she calls dance-inspired songs that explore “love and all its myriad possibilities.” Her new single from the upcoming album Infinity is sparkly pop meets EDM, full of theatrical anthems and catchy beats. Check out “Infinity” below!

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INTERVIEW: Bearstronaut on the 2013 BMAs, synth-pop, and their influences

bearstronautBoston “tank-top pop” band Bearstronaut is taking the New England dance scene by force. Known for their active, beach party-like performances, they’ve performed at the Boston Calling Music Festival and recently won electronic artist of the year at the Boston Music Awards (2013). They’ve described themselves at “part new-wave, part britpop, part electro, part r&b, but for the most part synth pop”. We asked guitarist David Martineau, keyboardist Paul Lamontagne, and bassist Nate Marsden a few questions about what it’s like to be a break out pop group.

AF: Some of the songs on Paradice are great party anthems – “A Better Hand” and “Moniker”, for example. Others, such as “Birds of Prey”, are more like love songs. Can you tell me a bit about the story or context behind the EP?

Paul – Our idea of “Paradice” was a great way for us to make these very bright and extravagant productions while leaving a tinge of darkness around the edge with a lot of the themes in the lyrics. I liked thinking of Paradice as the place you want to escape to, but when you’re still have to deal with all the same complicated life stuff as before. Kind of a “careful-what-you-wish-for” scenario.

Dave- We had some ideas for songs that we needed to reign in a bit in order to fit the concept we had for “Paradice.” We like the songs to have a contrast between the music and lyrics. Where either the song is bright and happy sounding but the lyrics deal with a darker concept, or vice versa. So “A Better Hand” is a dancier track, but the lyrics are about someone’s last days on death row.

Nate-  I tried to reflect the themes of the EP in the album art. We got the opportunity to use a photo taken by our friend, Emily Knudsen, from her recent trip to Peru. It’s an amazing photo of this beautiful desert scene at night, but there’s also this ominous looking shack in the foreground that draws you in. Her photos have this incredible juxtaposition of being beautiful but also sad, or dangerous at the same time and I think that works perfectly with our music.

AF: How about the musical inspiration? Do you all collaborate when writing?

Paul – It’s a collaborative thing. We have worked out  our individual roles a little bit so we each bring something new to a project. A lot of times we’ll work out sketches and demos of musical ideas and they get chewed around and mangled and shaped to support the context of what we’re trying to pull off. Designing the song idea is a pretty collaborative process.

Dave- I do my best to come up with a lyrical concept or story to apply to a demo or idea. Then present it to them in context I think is a good start. But they’re awesome at pointing me in a strong direction and helping me steer the focus of whatever I’m working on lyrically/melodically.

Nate- Living together definitely makes it easier to write. I love when someone knocks on my door and goes ‘Dude, you have to hear what I just did’ then a few hours later, we have the basis of a song.

AF: You self-released your first EP in 2009. How do you feel you’ve grown as a band since then?

Paul – Speaking for myself, I definitely felt like a novice putting that EP together. I learned a hell of a lot about making a record and what it takes to build a song. Songwriting has remained very challenging, mostly because I feel like we have no other option but to top ourselves. I barely knew anything about synths, samplers, production when we started, but the nature of those instruments is very exploratory. As we began to get creative with song ideas, it kind of unlocked new ideas from the instruments. It was very exciting to start from square one and have production skills and keyboard techniques come as a result of learning how to write songs.

Dave- That record was incredibly necessary for us as a group. We learned a lot about writing as a group and how to push ourselves creatively. At the same time, we figured out how to step back and listen critically at what we were doing as a whole. Now, we are trying to make themes more prevalent between songs and what will be on our album. The first ep will always sound like songs by 8 different bands in a way, but I think work ethic was what we took away from that experience the most. Nowadays, we’ve all gotten pretty good at being each other’s critics and knowing how to take that criticism as encouragement to keep working.

AF: The kind of music you write is made for dancing. I’ve heard and read great things about your live performances. Do you do anything special on stage to engage the audience?

Nate-  I just always try to look like I am having fun, no matter what. If it doesn’t look like we’re having a good time and dancing, how can we expect the audience to do the same? That’s my philosophy.

Paul – My hands are always stuck on a keyboard the whole show. I’m not exactly running around the stage but I do my bit.

Dave- We try to give our audience a bit more than just playing the album live. With “Paradice,” we added some auxiliary percussion to our live set up in order provide a more engaging aesthetic. We streamlined some transitions between songs in order to keep the momentum up. As a front man, I do my best to try and make people feel comfortable with breaking out a bit at our shows. You have to walk the line between being annoying and encouraging. So I make an effort to try some new moves on stage to show them I’m ok with letting my guard down in front of them.

AF: What was it like to be nominated (and awarded) in a couple of categories at the 2013 Boston Music Awards?

Nate-  Being nominated is a great feeling. It’s a weird sort of verification for everything we’ve done in the last year. Once I found out we were up for a few awards, I immediately reflected back to figure out why we were nominated and it reminded me of some crazy milestones we reached as a band in 2013. It’s nice to see that other people take notice of the hard work we’ve put in as a band. As far as winning Best Electronic Act, that’s kind of mind-blowing. With crews like Zone Def, HNDMD, and M|O|D all in Boston, we are like nerdy kids in gym class. Overall, it was a crazy night. We got to see some of our best friends win awards, and we got drunk while wearing ties, which is what it’s really all about.

Paul – It was a great night and I got to see so many friends there. It does feel great to win an award but I felt very proud to be among a lot of people I respect. We won an award for Best Electronic Act and for that category in particular, there’s a lot of amazingly talented electronic artists in the area who are so fluent and skilled with electronic production that it does feel like we are a bit of mis-representation haha. We’ve got drums, bass, and guitars just like every other band. Shout out to Tone Ra, Soul Clap, GMGN, Tide Eye, Tanner Ross, Andre Obin,

Dave- It is such an honor to be a part of the BMA’s. We had such a good time partying with everyone that night, basically to celebrate everyone’s hard work from the past year. My favorite part was definitely playing our set right after we won. We were all so excited to play at that point, it was one of my favorite sets of ours this past year.

AF: How did your friends and folks at home react to the Awards?

Nate- I think since we are all so close to our families and friends, it felt like they won as well. At least I hope that’s how it felt, since we truly couldn’t have won without them.

Dave- Our friends and family are incredibly supportive; always have been. They knew how much it meant to us to win this year. It felt great to bring something home this time to show them the fruits of our labor in a way.

AF: Many reviews mention a “human” quality to your work. People have called it “grounding humanity” and, more simply, “honesty”. What part of your music lends this quality?

Paul – That’s the trick, making music the way we do, it is very easy to get carried away. There’s always got to be a way to connect with people. We always try and tether our songs with that human element. I heard someone talking about the Strokes and how they always tried to make their guitars sound like computers played them. I sort of want to do the opposite, make computers feel like humans are telling them what to do and making mistakes. At the end of the day though, it’s all about trying to express something that feels real, even in the unnatural environment we put it in.

Dave-  When it comes to lyrics or stories, I try to create a balance between vivid imagery with accessible hooks. Some songs take longer to get there than others. But we want the hooks to be accessible, and for our audience to want to hear them again.

Nate- A lot of the human element also comes from our live show. Since we are all actually playing instruments, we tend to make mistakes. We’re not just standing up there pretending to be doing stuff.

AF: What are your favorite synth-pop bands, from the 80s and today?

Nate- Bow Wow Wow and that song ‘Electric Avenue’ by Eddie Grant

Paul – The Tough Alliance, Talk Talk, Delorean, Blancmange, Hot Natured, Saint Etienne

Dave- From the 80s: ABC, Human League, Duran Duran. From today: Hot Chip, Cut Copy, Polica, Painted Palms

AF: How many of them are influences?

Nate- 6, to be exact

Paul – I’m generally more interested in the songwriting and how clever they are at using their instruments to capture a feeling. Synth-pop bands are lucky to not have to exist in an actual environment. What I mean is, they can be as stark or lavish as they want and be as personal or as larger than life as they want. That’s a pretty attractive advantage.

Dave- All of them for sure. It’s really interesting to see how many of them cross paths or borrow from each other. When we analyze influences, we like dissect what parts we like and dislike to see what we want to draw from.

AF: Do you come down to New York often for live performances? How do you like it here?

Paul – I never know what to expect out of New York. We played Glasslands a couple weeks ago with the Hood Internet and Pictureplane and it was incredible. I loved it.

Dave- Yeah, we’ve definitely had a tough go of it in NYC. But the Converse show we did at Glasslands gave me some new found hope.

AF: What’s your favorite thing about Boston? What’s the best thing about Massachusetts?

Nate- Mo Vaughan and clam chowder.

Paul – The Greek Corner on Mass Ave. in Cambridge

Dave- The ability to escape the city fairly easy. All of our families are in CT, so it is nice to have home close by.

AF: It’s been freezing down here these past few weeks. It must be even worse up in Massachusetts. If you could live in one season forever what would it be?

Nate- Definitely Spring right before it becomes summer. We New Englanders work hard for that nice weather.

Paul – That first week in October is the sweet spot.

Dave- I’m all about the beginning of spring. Let me put on some shorts and bust these gams out already, please.

Check out Bearstronaut’s “Passenger Side”, off of their new Paradice EP:



Coming on the heels of September’s My Friends Never Die EP and its subsequent remixes, Seattle duo ODESZA (Harrison Mills aka Catacombkid and Clayton Knight aka BeachesBeaches) have curated NO.SLEEP Mix.01, the first in what is to be a series of mix tapes. The group has a penchant for sun-drenched harmony and music that feels less like melodic-based music than it does a three-dimensional immersive environment, a surround-sound experience of lush bass hums and trilling melodies that shimmer like wind chimes over a beat. Those familiar with ODESZA’s work won’t be surprised to hear that NO SLEEP, released November 20th, delivers an array of songs featuring warm vocal harmonies and re-assuringly upbeat bass lines.

Tracks wind together and morph into each other. The group maintains a more or less even tempo throughout this album–danceable,  but not frantic, with ample space given for each beat to expand to its full reverberation–and strike a balance between catchiness and intimacy. KAASI & TÂCHES’S onomatopoetic “Heartbeats” features broken vocals and a pulse of beat that you can feel almost physically (and would feel literally physically, if you were hearing the track performed live). Catchy, often R&B-based vocal hooks mark the movement from track to track, punctuating a low-key bottom line groove common to nearly every song. Voices are commonly left undoctored, their organic warmth accentuated by a surreal, heavily re-mixed backdrop. This is especially effective on Laura Mvula’s “She (Eagles For Hands Remix),” a quietly powerful number with heavy soul influences.

The tracks “Not Giving In” by Rudimental and “Two Dots” by Lusine, two songs so complementary that, after having heard the mix tape, it would be difficult to talk about them separately, stood out on this album. Two experiments in simplicity–individual expressions, but integral to one another. A single act of setting a melody in motion and watching it cause a chain reaction, making harmonies with itself and generating a momentum that carries one song into another.

The juxtaposition between raw and artificial–the evocation of a single motif, coming from two different angles and several different artists, comprised the theme of this mixtape. Aided by the collection’s pondering aesthetics, NO.SLEEP explores the tensions within the songs to their fullest extent.

Listen to ODESZA’S “My Friends Never Die (Little People Remix),” their contribution to the NO.SLEEP mix, via Soundcloud:

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